The LORD is My Shepherd
December 3, 2020
by Caren Abraham, DDS
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:8-11, KJV).
This is the time of year when we celebrate Christmas, the birth of Christ the Lord in a manger in Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago. What an unexpected scene: God in human form came to earth amidst the smelly animals to the audience of shepherds! While this is a very familiar part of the Christmas story, the idea of the shepherds has been my focus this year. Of all the people He could come to, why them? Why not to kings or even the priests? After all, Jesus is both King and High Priest. Yet He announced His birth to the shepherds on the outskirts of town while they kept watch over their flocks by night.
Throughout Scripture, the metaphor of a shepherd and sheep is used to describe the relationship between God and His people. From the Old Testament account of the nation of Israel to the end of the history of the world, we see God’s care and provision for His people typified in the various roles of a shepherd.
His desperate search and rescue operation for wayward Israel is detailed in Ezekiel 34:12, “As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day” (KJV). His sacrificial love and death on the cross is anticipated in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (KJV). His final judgment over all the earth is foretold in Matthew 25:31-32, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats” (KJV). A final reward to the faithful is promised in 1 Peter 5:4, “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (KJV).
Still, likely the most personal account of the Shepherd comes from one of the most well-known passages in Scripture: Psalm 23, which opens with these words: “The LORD is my shepherd.” From here, the chapter details God’s provision, direction, protection, comfort, blessing and promise to His own. This is an incredible and heartening truth. No matter what you may be facing—at work, at home, in society, in the midst of tumultuous days—the LORD is your Shepherd. He is there to comfort you, to defend you, to lead you—finally to life with Him in heaven.
And He takes this role seriously, to the point of laying down His life for us. Could it be that this is why He chose to announce His birth, which would ultimately lead to His death on the cross, to the shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night?